I just love repetition.
It’s my favourite thing ever. And my favourite thing to repeat is happiness. I just love that. It makes me reminded of the true miracle that is our existence.
Of course, we can’t be happy all the time, but I experience unhappy things still. They’re just not planned.
Back to repetition. Repetition repetition repetition.
Do you like the word yet?
I first discovered this principle in school.
The teacher would say things in class, I would write them down as she would say them, watch her write on the board what she was saying, and then later, after class, I would read over my notes a few times.
Ideas are just arrangements of meaning, symbolized by instances of language.
So if you want to absorb good ideas, memorize them. That is, place them in your head forever.
Repeat them to yourself until you can’t forget them - until they are so deeply a part of you that you can’t get rid of them.
And then repeat them some more.
It’s all about repetition.
This brings us to the idea of habits. Habits are things we repeat everyday. I have the habit plugging my phone in before I go to bed, or drinking from my glass of water when I go into the kitchen.
These things have become habits from repeating them a lot until we don’t have to think about them anymore.
If we want things to become a part of us, we do them as much as we can until we have to stop trying to do things.
As a young person, I am still building many of my habits. For example, I am trying to build the habit of writing in the morning into my life write now with this blog (hehe). This is because writing feels really good to me, especially write now as I’m writing this (hehehe).
And this brings us to our next key.
First, repetition is key to make things a part of us.
We can do this through habits, or repeating words through reading and writing and listening.
Next key: be REALLY careful about what becomes habit for you.
This magical part of ourselves that loves to repeat thing needs to be used for good not evil.
If we’re not careful we can find ourselves repeating things that are bad for us.
And that would be a shame now wouldn’t it. I hate shames.
This is why we must choose odur habits very carefully. We must be really careful about choosing the things we expose ourselves to very frequently, because they will become a part of us.
And if we care about what we become, it would make sense to be very careful about our habits.
But again, I’m young, so I still have a long way to go. I have many habits to pick.
One major habit to pick is choosing where I want to live. It would make sense to develop the habit of living in one place, so that becomes automatic, and we can focus on other things that we find more fun.
But, until I settle down on where I want to live, I still have tons of habits now, both good and bad ones.
Instead of focusing on eliminating bad ones, I find it most powerful to focus creating good ones.
For example, through the brief periods in my life where I developed the habit of writing in the morning, I have been extremely happy.
This leads us to the most important lesson of the day, as we learn about repetition and habits. We have to be careful of what habits we choose right?
Pick the habits that make you feel good, and don’t hurt anyone else.
It’s a pretty simple rule. Don’t hurt anyone, including yourself, and notice what feels good. And do more of that thing.
It’s a gut kind of thing. Just do more of what you like. Do more of what makes you feel happy.
Of course, I could say that everyone should write in the morning like I do, because it feels good for me. But I’m not saying that. I am saying we should focus on what feels good for ourselves, and do more of those things.
It’s an internal dialogue with what’s inside of you. A feedback loop where you give it more of what it wants.
But, like writing in the morning, there are a few things that might feel good for everyone.
Here are a couple:
Brushing our teeth
These are all things I do. You might do them too. Hopefully you do. If you don’t, I would LOVE to know why!
With these habits, things we do all the time, it would make sense to make sure these are good habits, habits we like to do.
But, whether we like to or not, we need to sleep. We have to treat these habits differently than other ones.
These are habits to be optimized. That is, because we will definitely need to do these things for the rest of our lives, we should probably work to make sure we are doing them the right way.
Now, as I have said before, I am quite young, so I am fortunate to have the privilege of choice over some of my habits.
For example, I still get to change when I sleep. It’s not a constant.
I also don’t eat the same things all the time yet.
But I can’t wait for the days when I can.
See, the idea is that we have a limited amount of decision making energy. We can’t be aware of every single habit we have and do, all day long, from now until infinity.
So, because we have this limited amount of energy, we use it on the important things - the important changes we want to make in the world.
For example, if you really like skateboarding, and skateboarding makes you feel good, you should be directing your energy towards skateboarding, and away from everything else.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat. It just means you shouldn’t have to think about what you eat everyday. Or when you sleep, or how you breathe.
This leads us to this incredible idea of ROUTINE.
Our routines are the programs our brain has, composed of lists of habits.
For example, most people have a bathroom routine. Whether it’s flossing, brushing, then shaving, and a cold shower like me, or brushing, showering, moisturizing body, and gelling hair like my roommate, chances are you do the same thing each day when you go to the bathroom.
Yes, sometimes you might be getting ready to go out, downtown perhaps, when you may find yourself changing what you do, but this is okay.
But heck, maybe you go downtown every week. Your routine each time is probably the same.
With our routine of habits, we can focus our energy on the stuff we really like.
But the key is that once we’ve built our habits we can’t change them.
So, once we pull ourselves towards the thing we want to direct lots of energy to: skateboarding, we pull it away from everything else.
But, before we pull it away from everything else, we want to make sure we build up strong base habits for the things we always do, like eating and sleeping.
That’s what I am focusing on right now.
I want to build my baseline habits up as strong as I can. Here are some of them:
Getting up early and writing.
Eating when I’m hungry.
Exercising every day.
I may be missing a few, but those are my focuses at the moment.
Notice how they are activity-based.
To reiterate, they are what I have found feels really good for me. I don’t know you, and I definitely don’t know what feels good for you. But I have a feeling that we are all actually a lot more similar than we think, and could benefit from a core set of habits, like reading for example.
Other, more value-based habits I am working to build right now are:
Saying hi to everyone I know and see.
Not having a to-do list, and putting everything in the calendar.
Consuming no social media.
Laughing and being silly more.
These are current focuses. They usually change as I grow and become better at the things I am working towards.
But there is an important point to make here.
So I have this friend.
When they were younger, they LOVED picking their nose.
Then, when his mom nagged him to stop for a couple of MONTHS, he eventually stopped picking it.
Now, 10 years later, he has started digging for gold again.
Hint: I know him really well.
This brings us to our closing idea. First, let’s break down what we’ve learned.
Repetition exists, and should be used if we want to make new things a part of ourselves.
Also, for things that are already a part of ourselves, we look to our habits, and how they have made these things a part of us.
While is important to be aware of our habits, we must recognize we can’t be aware of all our habits every day, let alone change all of them.
So, we work to build very strong base habits that we intend to keep for life first.
With these focuses in place, we can direct our remaining energy to nice to have subtle changes in our lives, like stopping picking our nose.
In short, we don’t always become what we want to become, we become what we repeat.
So, be aware of what you do, and change it until it is what you want to become.
Then, because what you do creates who you are, you will become exactly what you wanted.